I’m linking up again with the Summer Blog Social to share with you some things that I have learned about blogging over the last 4 years. I am by no means an expert but having been around the block a time or two, I thought I would share some things that work and some others that don’t when it comes to blogging!
- Design Matters. Your design should be eye-catching without being overly distracting. Colors are great but pick just a couple and go from there. In my experience, the cleaner and simpler the design the better. Definitely add your personality but if I can’t find your posts lost in a sea of buttons, awards, and widgets, then I probably won’t come back. And for the love, please don’t use a light font on a dark background! What I’m looking for when I visit your blog: is your content as well as where I can learn more about you (an about page is awesome) and how I can follow you (make your social media icons easy to find!). The great thing about blogging is that the quality of the design is not dependent on price. Just because you can’t shell out $500 on a custom design doesn’t mean you cannot have a great one! The web is full of tutorials on how to make a great and unique design (such as this one on installing a cute font on blogger) so while custom is a perk, it isn’t a must. If you want some critique on your blog design, Eli Rose Social and MomComm are great resources!
- Reply to Comments. As a reader, it means so much to me when a blogger takes the time to read my comment and respond! There are many plug-ins out there that make this a piece of cake by sending readers an email when you respond to their comment (I use Comment to Email). Chances are, if a blogger takes the time to reply back to my comment, then I will be a repeat visitor.
- Comment on Other Blogs. Want to increase your traffic and readership? Get out there and start reading! Find blogs that you love and leave comments – REAL comments. No comment vomit. If you leave a sincere comment, then that blogger can then reply back with a sincere response and voila – community has begun.
- Grammar Matters. I’m not talking about hiring a Comma Nazi to proof every post but spelling and sentence structure are important. I need to be able to follow and understand your writing. This isn’t Facebook or texting – please use full words (skip the “ur” or “cuz” please) Although I can’t say I like reading the slang there either. This is a great post on how to improve your writing.
- Trust Your Gut. Totally pull a Gibbs when it comes to your blog. If you finish up a post and feel a little unsure about it, do not hit publish. Let it sit in drafts for a few days or have a blog buddy read over it. If in your gut your post seems disorganized or off, then it probably is. Don’t hit publish just for the sake of having something to publish. Another word of widsom: don’t hit publish when you are angry or otherwise overly emotional. Feel free to write but wait to hit publish.
- Don’t Sell Out. It is so tempting to accept any offer that shows up in your inbox when there is money (or other form of payment) involved for a sponsored post. Believe me. I am guilty. If you browse through my history several months ago you will find the type of posts I’m talking about. Was the money a perk? Of course. Did those posts get any comments or views? Very, VERY little. Am I kicking myself for completely selling out and leaving my niche for some income? Absolutely. Stay true to yourself and your blog and you will have no regrets.
- Find Your Own Voice. While it’s good to read other blogs and have bloggers that you admire and who inspire you, be sure that you don’t lose yourself trying to be like someone else. I read your blog because of YOU. I want to hear YOUR story. This is a great post from MomComm about using your own voice.
- Don’t Lose Your Blog in a Sea of Memes. There are tons of great linkups throughout the blogosphere these days – Top 10 Tuesdays, Wordless Wednesdays, Wordful Wednesdays, What I Wore Wednesdays (Wednesday seems to be a popular day), Thankful Thursdays, Fill in the Blank Fridays. It can be extremely tempting to participate in them all! While they are a great way to expose your blog to new readers as well as find some new blogs to follow yourself, if all you post are meme linkups, your content is going to suffer and your readers are going to get bored. Pick one or two that you enjoy and then focus on original content.
- Know Your Audience. Do you know who is reading your blog? Moms? Singles? College students? If you don’t know ask! I was curious so I did a quick poll using Survey Monkey and was surprised to find that a good chunk of my readers are not moms. While I do include motherhood and parenting with chronic illness in the content of my blog, I try not to make it the overlying theme as I want to still be able to connect with my readers in a variety of areas. Another way to get to know your audience – which posts have the most comments? Is there a common theme? Asking some simple questions can bring a huge return in your blog readership and community.
- Have Fun! Blogging should not be forced. If you feel overwhelmed or uninspired, take a break. Take the time you would be spending writing to seek out some inspiration! Like I mentioned before, its better to not post at all then to publish a half-thought-out junk post (preaching to the choir here).
What things have you picked up through your experience as a blogger? What things have you learned personally that work or that don’t?
Don’t forget to check out more awesome information at the Summer Blog Social!